Fighting Season for Chain of Command

Fighting Season Header 2It’s been a busy time on Lard Island over the past month. With Salute looming, we’ve been busy working on our annual game which, as so often is the case, is going to be a preview of a new game system: Fighting Season. Followers of the TooFatLardies Twitter feed and Facebook page will have noticed a few snippets here and there as we have been crunching our way through the new rules, always an interesting and challenging time which gets the creative juices well and truly flowing and, for me, provides one of the best buzzes a wargame developer can get; that moment where you can say “Yes. This is really working!”.
What has made the development process all the more interesting is that the main development work to date has been done on the oither side of the world in Australia by well know writer and specialist on ultra-modern warfare, Leigh Neville. Leigh is no stranger to wargames rules, having written numerous rules supplements as well as the Osprey books he is equally well known for. We thought we’d ask Leigh to tell us a bit about what Fighting Season is all about.
Leigh told us “I’ve been developing the “ultra-modern” supplement for Chain of Command for almost two years now, almost from the moment COC was released to the masses. By “ultra- modern” I mean the recent asymmetric conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. My regular opponent, Mick Collins, and I saw an immediate opportunity to extend the mechanisms that make COC superb at gaming small unit actions in the Second World War to the insurgencies of today (Mick reckons that COC does asymmetric even better than conventional but that’s a discussion for another day). Either way, Chain of Command serve as an outstanding basis for a set of ultra-modern wargame rules.”
DSCN9821Good to know. So what was it that captured Leig and Mick’s imaginations? Leigh goes on: “First and foremost it’s the Patrol Phase. Gone are the artificial deployment zones and straight away, you as the platoon commander, are forced into conducting what amounts to a pretty serious terrain appreciation before you start to probe the forward line of troops. This beautifully abstracts both physical reconnaissance by specialist units and the process of intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB) through ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance – read that as overhead UAVs and aircraft, Special Forces and all manner of signals and human intelligence). The Patrol Phase also lets us model, through scenario modifiers, all sorts of operations from surprise air-assaults onto a target compound to presence patrols moving into a village of questionable allegiances.
DSCN9825Next, it’s the Command Dice mechanism- combined with the troop rating system, we have been able to model every combatant in both theatres. Need a determined enemy with decent warfighting skills but with poor C3 (command, control and communication)? Fanatical Regulars but four Command Dice. A local insurgency with rudimentary skills and similarly poor C3? Green with four Command Dice. Tier One Special Forces? Elite with six Command Dice (and maybe a few classified advantages…). You get the picture. What the Command Dice rolls allow us to do is also easily customised- we can model the C3 limitations of the insurgent whilst also modelling the relative tactical flexibility of the Coalition warfighters.
DSCN9824Finally the combat system with its emphasis on Shock. Read any modern first-person account of small unit combat and you will soon note that winning the firefight revolves around suppressing the enemy. The system of Shock and its morale effects, suitably modified to simulate the unique position of Coalition Forces that literally have nowhere to run if routed, fits this model perfectly. Get enough of an accurate weight of fire, using the right weapons systems, against the target and they will break, sometimes without a single casualty incurred. Again the COC system allows us the room to modify the core system to reflect current tactical realities without breaking the system or bogging us down in innumerable “special rules”. Time and again we found that existing COC mechanisms could be slightly modified to bring things forward fifty plus years. That this can be done, creditably, for both Afghanistan 2014 and Seville 1937 points to a pretty damned robust rules engine under the hood.
DSCN9822Leigh has been working very closely with Richard over the past few months now as intensive playtesting has been under way on Lard Island. We asked Richard how things have been progressing. “Very well. We are somewhat behind schedule as I did my back in before Christmas and couldn’t sit to paint up the required toys for playtesting. However, we are previewing the rules at Salute in just a few weeks time, so work has been intense to say the least. What we are striving for is a system which doesn’t reinvent the wheel, its important that current players of Chain of Command can plug straight in to Fighting Season. That has been Leigh’s and my over-arching design goal.”
DSCN9820How has it been working on opposite sides of the world? “Surprisingly easy actually. When I finish a game at the club, I will send Leigh a report and by the time I get up the next morning all the answers are there. It’s a bit like me leaving my rough ideas out overnight, and in the morning the elves have stitched them together and made sense of them. I’m also helped by a healthy does of insomnia, so we’ve been able to have some prety productive late night/early morning discussions. What has really helped is that both of us are committed to producing a set of rules which provide challenges for both sides. Leigh wrote in the Christmas Special that he didn’t want this to be “Whack-a-mole” and I think that’s right. There’s no game in technology rich “good guys” zapping “bad guys” at will. This needs to be a sensible consideration of Insurgent and Coalition tactics and the rules must allow either side to win if they play to their own particular strengths.”
That must be challenging? “Sure, but then all game design is challenging. What is the real challenge is not the simulation of tactics, but turning that into an enjoyable and challenging game. There are a very different set of dynamics to consider when comparing modern warfare with WWII, but that tends to change the flavour of the game rather than changing the core mechanics which, as Leigh says, are robust due to their inherrent simplicity. The core move, shoot, morale elements of Chain of Command are so simple that they become intuitive. All the player has to concentrate on is the command dice and choose whatever tactical options are best for him within that phase. That’s the beauty of the rules and what allows them to be so flexible when shifting them to periods other than WWII”.
So, it looks like Salute will see much interest in the rules. Richard plans to run a number of participation games throughout the day. “We thought that short games, probably 45 minutes each just to give the players a taste of how the mechanisms work would be best at this stage. We’ll probably just run one big game with a rolling cast of players. We are always over-subscribed, but this will allow the maximum number of people to get a look at what is coming”>
Talking of which, when can we expect Fighting Season to be published? “I’m aiming for June” says Richard, with his well-known optimism.


24 thoughts on “Fighting Season for Chain of Command”

  1. Thanks for posting this. Eagerly awaiting FS.
    CoC addresses conventional conflict now FS will deal with the second and possibly a more common major form of warfare. Asymmetrical conflicts have existed throughout history.

  2. Been eagerly anticipating this ever since last year’s Afghan village build and the article in the Christmas Special. Looks and sounds fantastic, especially as CoC enables such a great game. June can’t come soon enough!

  3. A couple questions.
    1. Insertion and extraction of forces? Rotory, convoy, FOB, walking patrols?
    2. Mechanics for convoys, MRAPS, and up-armored. Vulnerability to IED?
    3. Civilians, sympathetic? Imbedded insurgent using them as cover?
    4. Air support?

    1. Not a stupid question at all Roger. We are in two minds. The changes from the original rules are largely superficial tweaks as opposed to a whole new rule set. If we go with this as a supplement there will be much more room to include not just army lists but also a complete campaign system and lots of background information. If we go with producing a full set of rules then there will be much duplication and no room for all the additional goodies which, I think, really make the game into something special. We have loud voices calling for both. Any thoughts?

  4. Hi Richard
    Thank you for such a quick response. Personally I think if the CoC rules are robust enough to handle irregular warfare, with a few ‘superficial tweaks’, then a supplement sounds like the more sensible option, especially if going down that path allows you to also include a campaign system and other ‘goodies’.
    Having just recently completed a University paper on Irregular Warfare I was very pleased to see the announcement about the ‘Fighting Season’ rules in development. Probably getting ahead of myself here but apart from Iraq and Afghanistan will ‘Fighting Season’ also cover other conflicts such as those involving Isis, the Syrian civil war and the Nigerian conflict.

  5. A whole set of Coc supplements sounds good,(fighting season, cold war ,(space Coc?)), but i imagine a complete rule set might be more marketable?
    Could you put the extra bits in a cheap pdf or a special?
    Either way just finishing off my elhiem brits in anticipation.

  6. Pingback: Off the beaten track, but still on the path • playingtheodds

  7. So I assume the optimistic June release date was TOO optimistic? Any idea when these rules will be released – I have been working on translating the CoC WW2 to modern myself, but using someone elses ideas would be a lot easier!

    1. Hi Keith, I fear lots of domestic issues have got in the way My mother in law had a stroke in June and has ended up completely dependent, that has kept me out of the business since then. We are just about getting to the point where I am able to get back to work, but for safety’s sake we are looking at a release at Salute next year. So April.

  8. Stevo von Divo

    Latecomer to the fray, glad to see CoC being expanded by official supplements. Looking forward to this, which “was” on the cards for next month (catching up on other threads though this might have slid again…..)
    Checking FB group out as well, look forward to developments.

  9. Pingback: Fighting Season on display at Salute | Meeples & Miniatures

  10. So Rich, just wondering if there has been any more progress on the “modernized” version off CoC? I had a go at it myself last year for a game with several friends but bits of what I did, didn’t work very well, so I was hoping to use your ideas – would be the first time I have EVER bought a set of commercial riules!

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